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Pita Pit packs pleasing fare

By Jennifer Christman

This article was published February 20, 2014 at 3:19 a.m.

philly-steak-pita-sandwich-with-chips-and-a-drink-at-the-pita-pit-in-little-rock

Philly Steak pita sandwich with chips and a drink at the Pita Pit in Little Rock.

The Pita Pit.

The name reminds us of the Peach Pit - the hangout on Beverly Hills, 90210.

But Pita Pit is an Ontario, Canada-based fast-casual sandwich chain with a franchise in the Centre at Ten shopping center in west Little Rock, 72223.

And while we think they’d appreciate this Pit’s emphasis on bathing-suit-friendly fare (the mayonnaise served is Hellmann’s Light; a scanned QR code on the menu links one’s phone to nutrition information), we can’t see Brandon, Brenda, Dylan and Kelly chilling here.

Though there are several tables, the Pita Pit is a bit more carryout than hangout. We were offered no trays, baskets or plates and had to clumsily carry our wrapped sandwiches, chips and drinks to the table with our hands (on a second visit, we discovered, the Pit has to-go boxes that can act as plates).

How the Pit differs from other chain sandwich shops, say, Subway: There are only two kinds of bread (white or wheat pita) and sandwiches are one size. The Pit steams its pitas prior to cooking and then heats its meats (and eggs, etc.) on a grill. It also offers plentiful, impressive toppings and cooked-to-order breakfast sandwiches available all day.

Watch as your pita sandwich (categories include Meat for $6.79, Veggie for $6.29, Kids for $3.79 or Breakfast for $6.49) is crafted before your eyes, then customized with your choice of free toppings (everything from the usual lettuce, tomato and provolone to the more unusual hummus, roasted red pepper, feta and avocado - yes, avocado spread for no extra charge). A few add-ons do cost extra, like double cheese and extra bacon (99 cents), extra hummus or avocado (99 cents) or double meat ($2.19).

Sandwiches can be turned into combos ($2.29 regular; $2.59 large), including a drink and choice of chips, a cookie or soup - usually two selections per day; recent selections included vegetable, chicken noodle, potato and French onion.

On the first visit, I chose the Philly Steak combo. But for all its good-sounding ingredients - sliced steak, grilled onions, mushrooms and green peppers, provolone cheese - the bundle lacked flavor, even with a smear of ancho chipotle sauce. A side of twangy Miss Vickie’s Sea Salt & Vinegar potato chips more than overcompensated.

My friend had the Gyro combo with a side of more calorie-conscious baked chips. Her take on the pita with seasoned beef, romaine, black olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta and tzatziki: “If you are in a hurry, want a portable sandwich that isn’t too bready, then Pita Pit might fill the bill. But when I compare their Gyro to Layla’s or Leo’s, there is no comparison.”

We fancied Pit’s fancy self-serve Coke Freestyle machine featuring a wealth of bubbly flavors. Though it didn’t contain my beloved Diet Dr Pepper, I consoled myself with a rare Coke Zero with Raspberry ($1.79 regular fountain; $1.99 large fountain; bottled drinks available - but without refills and fun button-pushing - for $1.99).

A second visit proved tastier. My spicy Buffalo Chicken sandwich, accented with lettuce, tomato, roasted red peppers and blue cheese, was significantly saucy, and yet the bread held everything together beautifully.

On the recommendation of an enthusiastic pita producer, my date tried an off-menu breakfast-for-dinner creation called Chad’s Chicken, a wrap of Mediterranean-spiced chicken souvlaki, hash browns and scrambled egg. The concoction delighted, though the double meat requested challenged the pita’s durability.

The Pita Pit desires repeat business, which was made clear by the friendly staff and several incentives to return: $1 off coupons for future visits, as well as a plastic Pita Pit card for racking up reward points.

It might just become a hangout yet.

The Pita Pit

Address: Centre at Ten shopping center, 12911 Cantrell Road, Little Rock Hours: 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday Cuisine: Pita sandwiches Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V Alcoholic beverages: No Reservations: No Wheelchair accessible: Yes Carryout: Yes (501) 227-7482 pitapit.com

Weekend, Pages 31 on 02/20/2014

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